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ATV issues aired at forum

Residents, officials discuss issues Wednesday

December 1, 2011
By BILL SHEA - Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Fort Dodge residents annoyed by four-wheelers roaring through their neighborhoods, off-highway vehicle fans and local officials came together Wednesday evening to discuss the problem of people illegally riding their machines on streets.

By the end of the one-hour session, there was general agreement that a small number of riders are responsible for the illegal activity.

''It looks pretty evident that there's a very small percentage of the people that own motorcycles and ATVs that are causing the problems,'' said Webster County Supervisor Bob Singer.

Singer said the gathering was a successful venue for giving people information on how to properly report illegal riding. He said it also was a good opportunity to get ideas from people who ride motorcycles and off-highway vehicles.

By the end of the session, about a dozen people volunteered to provide input on the design of the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park. That park, south of Fort Dodge, is on the verge of an 800 acre expansion and it may eventually encompass 1,500 acres.

Singer and Fort Dodge City Councilman Don Wilson convened the meeting at Butler Elementary School, 945 S. 18th St., because they represent the south side of town where the majority of complaints about illegal riding have come from.

About 60 people attended. Many of them were motocross riders who were motivated to attend after hearing rumors that local officials were planning to outlaw motocross tracks on private property.

''To my knowledge, there's been no discussion about that,'' Singer said after the meeting.

There are about six of those ''pop up parks'' in Webster County, according to Scott Wallace, the father of a local motocross rider. He said the parks are for closed course motocross races featuring motorcycles going over jumps.

Wallace added that the Fort Dodge area is home to at least four AMA Arenacross champions.

''These kids are all good kids,'' he said. ''They're not the ones riding up and down the streets.''

The people who are riding all-terrain vehicles on the streets are breaking the law, according to Matt Cosgrove, the director of Webster County Conservation. He said those machines can only be operated in designated parks, clubs or other private property at which permission has been granted to ride.

Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody provided some tips on properly reporting illegal riding.

According to information he distributed, the following data should be given to law enforcement:

The information can be reported to the Fort Dodge Police Department (573-2323), the Webster County Sheriff's Department (573-1410), or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (281-3449 or 238-3564).

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or



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